July 19th, 2024

Quebec wants Supreme Court judge to recuse himself from Bill 21 challenge hearing

By The Canadian Press on July 5, 2024.

Judge Mahmud Jamal speaks during an official welcoming ceremony at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Oct. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

QUEBEC – The Quebec government is calling for a Supreme Court of Canada judge to recuse himself as the court deliberates whether to hear an appeal involving the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21.

The province says Justice Mahmud Jamal doesn’t have the “required impartiality” to hear the case.

In a letter to the country’s highest court, Quebec Attorney General Simon Jolin-Barrette says Jamal was chairman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s board of directors when the group challenged Bill 21 in Superior Court in 2019.

Jolin-Barrette says it would be inappropriate for the judge to deliberate on a case “in which he was a party.”

In response to an earlier complaint, the court on June 25 said Jamal believes there is no real or reasonably perceived conflict of interest that would compel him to recuse himself.

In February, Quebec’s Court of Appeal upheld the province’s secularism law, which prohibits some public sector workers from wearing religious symbols on the job.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has sought leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court, which has not yet said whether it will hear the case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024.

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